A is for Artichoke
I thought it would be fun to start our vegetable adventure with this beautiful plant. I’ve always admired it for its funky color and shape, but wasn’t inspired to learn how to prep and cook it – until now.
Part of the strategy behind this taste test is to learn how to properly select and prepare a vegetable, as well as sample the vegetable close to its purest form – and not hidden in a creamy sauce (disclaimer: I would kill for a spinach artichoke dip). So, I went the simple, less daunting route, and boiled it.
After rinsing the artichoke, I trimmed the stem and leaves, added it to a pot of salted water, covering the entire plant. I let it boil for 35 minutes in a covered pot. After draining it and letting it cool, I melted a small dish of butter in the microwave.
The kids were intrigued. This looked like a fun game, not a vegetable tasting. They could peel away at the leaves, at the same time, dip (not drown) in butter, and then scrape the meat with their teeth. They jumped right in and loved it. We quickly made our way through the entire plant and arrived at the stem, which I cut away to reveal the meaty heart. It was the grand finale, and delicious. I quickly realized I should have made two.
We not only started with a fun vegetable – it’s also one of the oldest. According to Wikipedia, artichokes can be traced back to Egypt and Naples in the 9th Century.
Not surprisingly, all of the artichoke production in the U.S. in Castroville, California, “the Artichoke Capital of the World.” Fun fact: in 2013, artichokes were proclaimed the official vegetable of California.
When you’re ready to go beyond the basic, here’s a list of fun recipes from LA Times.
Check out this Pinterest board for more on preparation and recipes.